Daddy B. Nice's #49 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Good Loving Will Make You Cry"
Composed by Carl Marshall
February 1, 2014: NEW ARTIST GUIDE ALERT!
Carl Marshall is now the #27-ranking Southern Soul artist on Daddy B. Nice's new 21st Century Top 100 Countdown.
Go to Daddy B. Nice's new 21st-Century Artist Guide to Carl Marshall.
May 8, 2011: New Album Alert:
Bargain-Priced Grown Folks Love To Dance CD
Comparison-PricedGrown Folks Love To Dance CD
January 23, 2011:
Carl Marshall wins BEST SOUTHERN SOUL ARRANGER/PRODUCER OF THE YEAR: See 4th Annual "Daddies," Southern Soul Music Awards
Carl Marshall' "I Lived It all" wins BEST SOUTHERN SOUL SONG BY LONGTIME VETERAN: See 4th Annual "Daddies," Southern Soul Music Awards
And in "2010: The Year In Review," Daddy B. Nice writes:
"It was a big year for Carl Marshall, who as Dylan DeAnna's right-hand man and producer at CDS continued on one of the most productive tears of his or any Southern Soul man's creative life, writing, producing and generally "fathering" an incredible list of albums in addition to his own highly-praised solo CD."
--Daddy B. Nice
See "Tidbits" below for the latest updates on Carl Marshall, including Daddy B. Nice's reviews of Carl Marshall's latest CD's, Look Good For You and Love Who You Wanna Love.
To read Daddy B. Nice's 2009 interview with Carl Marshall, scroll down to "Tidbit #6."
To automatically link to Carl Marshall's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other references, go to "Marshall, Carl" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:
Maybe it's been awhile. Maybe it's a perfect day--autumn, perhaps, with a cool breeze and a hot sun. Maybe you're just feeling good about yourself, and you know you're going to be calm enough and centered enough to give your special someone the kind of slow loving you both crave.
Time slows down. The minutes feel precious. A simple touch triggers an unanticipated amount of pleasure. You actually let go a rare tear or two of appreciation. And you watch the tear roll down the skin of your beloved even as a tiny question mark passes over his or her face.
"So this is what life is all about," you think. "In the rush of things, I'd forgotten."
That's what Carl Marshall is talking about. And that's what "Good Loving Will Make You Cry," the Carl Marshall song that has dominated chitlin' circuit playlists for over a year, is all about.
"Good Loving" features a mixture of rap-speech and vocal in the best tradition of Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out." It's a technique Marshall had been honing on many records over the years: "I've Got The Blues Trying To Find Love," "Reap What You Sow" and others.
"A young man I know
Stayed on the run for a long time.
He wanted to be a player.
Oh, he was a tough cat.
Had women everywhere.
"But, finally, one day,
He met that special someone.
And fell in love with
A woman who had been married three times
And had three kids--
One from each marriage.
"And she whipped that thing on him.
My, my, my. She had some
Experience in making love.
She made him so happy
Every time he would come around
He had tears in his eyes.
And I know why."
There's nothing sentimental in the message, as the words on the printed page might imply. Marshall's weathered stewardship of "Good Loving" is rooted in reality. And for a musician with so many technical weapons at his disposal, Carl Marshall is especially attuned to the human heart. He is really in a special "place," emotionally and psychologically, and that purity of character--that underlying humanity--shines through every bar of "Good Loving Will Make You Cry."
The rest is history. The Southern Soul audience responded to "Good Loving Will Make You Cry," (Bargain-Priced Songs People Love The Most, Volume 1 CD )-- and responded again and again, month after month, through 2006 and all through 2007, with very little let-up, bringing Marshall a newfound, hard-won and well-deserved popularity. "Good Loving" put Carl Marshall on the Southern Soul map.
It wasn't always so.
Your Daddy B. Nice used to see Carl Marshall's name popping up occasionally on Funky Larry Jones' and Jerry "Boogie" Mason's chitlin' circuit deejay radio reports. This was back in the "old" days, turn-of-the-century, and I remember I'd get so frustrated because I would see that name "Marshall" as I combed through the lists, but never actually heard a deejay play anything by Marshall on the radio. The man remained an enigma.
One of the problems was that I was a "day" person. If I had been up in the middle of the night, I might have heard Uncle Bobo playing and undoubtedly postulating about Carl Marshall. Indeed, I have a few tapes from those three a.m. hours, snatches of which I've actually pieced together with the titles as Carl Marshall's work has gradually creeped into the media and music worlds. (The most memorable is a very-early-recorded tape of Marshall's rap in "I Got The Blues Looking For Love.")
Luckily, one song from the LP Last Minute (Lousiana Music Factory, 1999), "I Lived It All," caught on with influential Mississippi Public Radio deejays Handyman and Ragman (daytime colleagues of DJ Uncle Bobo at Jackson's WMPR). That's where I first heard "I Lived It All," and I knew immediately Carl Marshall had struck the bulls-eye of Southern Soul music.
This was long before "Good Loving" appeared, mind you. Pared down to a quasi-acapella arrangement, with a rhythm section from heaven and a bagpipe-like synthesizer hook, "I Lived It All" recalled O. V. Wright's "A Nickel And A Nail," Eddie Holloway's "I Had A Good Time," and Peggy Scott-Adams' spare, gospel-influenced classic, "I'm Willing To Be A Friend." Its slow, hypnotic beat had a whiff of the reggae standard, "The Rivers Of Babylon," by The Melodians, made famous on the soundtrack of The Harder They Come.
"I Lived It All" detailed a tale of woe--not really of woe, perhaps--but a tale of "dues" paid.
"I was brought up the hard way.
Worked for fifty cents a day. . .
"I was lonely, hungry, broke.
Didn't have any hope.
Doors closed in my face.
Friends I thought I had
Made me feel so bad.
"Nobody can tell me
Nothin' about not having what you need,
Because I believe
I lived it all."
But it wasn't the words (beyond a few key phrases) that enthralled the most. It was the gist of the message, and the grit in the words, and the optimism and perseverence in the strangely inspiring synth hook, which seemed to contradict the message of bitterness. Each new revelation of poverty and despair on the part of the singer was contradicted by the phoenix-like upward curve of the oboe-like hook (later augmented by a terrific saxophone solo) and the unstoppable, tromping-through-hell-and-high-water beat.
Sadly, this great unknown classic, "I Lived It All," remains out of print. Lacking a sound sample, I can only tell readers unfamiliar with the song that its words--like these below--
"I was out on my own
At the age of twelve.
From a kid to a man,
I caught pretty hell.
"Sometimes I couldn't pay my rent.
When I got a little money,
It was already spent.
I had to go pay
All the debts I owed,
So my friends would loan me some more."
--Mesh with the rhythm section so exquisitely it constitutes nothing less than a Southern Soul revelation. There have been times, I admit, when the song can sound a little thin. Too spare. But at other times--the great majority of the time--it has the power of a cathedral, and you could live in the vibrant world the song creates.
Hopefully, Marshall will reissue "I Lived It All" on a new disc, something he has done with a number of his other songs, including what has become his signature song, "Good Loving Will Make You Cry."
--Daddy B. Nice
About Carl Marshall
More than a few Southern Soul fans are aware that Sir Charles Jones wrote the bulk of the tunes for The Love Doctor's first album, Doctor Of Love. Very few, however, realize that Love Doctor producer Senator Jones turned to another rising talent, Carl Marshall, for the composing duties on the Love Doctor's second CD, Moaning And Groaning (Mardi Gras, 2002).
Song's Transcendent Moment
"When you're making love,
DADDY B. NICE INTERVIEWS CARL MARSHALLYou may be one of the lucky few who has heard of Carl Marshall and loves his music, especially the song that made him famous in the Southern Soul world, "Good Loving Will Make You Cry." You may even be one of the industry insiders or passionate fans who exaggerates his popularity.
Actually, Marshall is still largely an unknown artist, even among the greater Southern Soul audience. Nevertheless, of the chitlin' circuit veterans coming of age today, replacing the fallen trailblazers like Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis, and Little Milton, Carl Marshall is uniquely poised for stardom.
With a new CD (Look Good For You) just released to a fanfare he's been unaccustomed to during a quarter-century of dues-paying obscurity, and with upcoming production projects in the works for fast-emerging Southern Soul label CDS Records (with artists such as T. J. Hooker Taylor--one of Johnnie's sons--Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Stan Mosley and Charles Wilson), Carl Marshall currently finds himself at the creative epi-center of the Southern Soul scene.
The following interview took place on Saturday, March 28, 2009. It has been edited and condensed from over two hours of material.
"Carl, I was going to brush up for this interview. . .. . . by reading up on your background, and I went to a couple of places on the Internet and there wasn't a whole lot. And then I thought, 'Oh, yeah! Daddy B. Nice wrote an Artist Guide on Carl Marshall!,' and I went back to my own website and read all the stuff I'd forgotten I'd written about you."
Carl laughs. "Talking with you is a real pleasure, Daddy B. And I appreciate everything you're doing for Southern Soul and for me."
"Carl, I can remember when your name would pop up on an occasional deejay's play list in the early years of this century, and I used to get so frustrated, 'Who is this Carl Marshall character?,' because I never heard any of your music. And when I did hear something by you, they never mentioned your name, so I didn't know it was yours. And it was like that for quite a few years."
"Yeah, it was like that for most everybody until, oh, I'd say, the album Songs People Love The Most, Daddy. 'Good Loving Will Make You Cry' and 'This Is For Grown Folks,' 'Jingle My Bell' and 'Reap What You Sow' were all on that one."
"I think there's a core part of the Southern Soul audience that knows you very well, but to most you're not that well-known. And that's what we'd like to correct with this interview. How do you see it?"
"I think you hit it. 'Good Loving Will Make You Cry' got my name out there, but it's just the beginning of the recognition and the fame that you're talking about, even within Southern Soul."
"So do you consider 'Good Loving Will Make You Cry' a huge step forward in your career? Or do you see it as just one in a series of small steps forward?"
"Oh, it was a huge leap," Carl says, "Now, financially, I haven't seen all of the results. But 'Good Loving' established a foundation."
"A brand," Daddy B. Nice says. "Like Campbell's Soup."
"Exactly," Carl says. "The funny thing about 'Good Loving' is that when I first released it, I couldn't get a deejay to play it. Nobody was interested. 'Good Loving' laid around for two years without anyone touching it."
"Now, with its popularity, I know 'Good Loving' could take Southern Soul to the next level, if only the big-market radio stations would play it. It's not that the people wouldn't like it. The younger crowd loves the song. But urban radio, like back here in the Houston area, won't give it a chance."
"Your songs usually have a funky groove," Daddy B. Nice says, "but 'Good Loving' is an exception. It's almost country."
"You're right. You know, I lived in Nashville for fifteen years, Daddy."
"Really. When, exactly?"
"Late seventies, early eighties," Carl says. "That's where I honed a lot of my production skills. I've been a producer over thirty years now. That's where I became a kind of one-man session band. It was a lot cheaper for the studios to hire me than to hire a lot of musicians. I gradually learned to play all the instruments, arrange, do everything there is to do. And then, when I went back to New Orleans, I continued down there."
"Describe that Louisiana scene. It's really an obscure corner of the whole contemporary Southern Soul movement."
"The roots of my music come from New Orleans funk. The Isleys. I worked with Aaron Neville, and played guitar for the Neville Brothers. There was The Meters, of course. New Orleans funk. That was the thing. If you can be as funky as The Meters, you're doing it. And we played it all: jazz, soul, gospel, blues, country. James Brown said, 'If you ain't groovin', you ain't movin'."
"That brings up your early years. Nobody knows when you were born, Carl."
Carl laughs. "Years ago I was told that in the music business, giving your age out to the media wasn't real smart, so I've just always downplayed that."
"So when were you born?"
"I won't send out any press releases."
Carl laughs again. "I was born in 1950."
"You spring chicken!" Daddy B. Nice says. "I was born in '46. Where were you born?"
"Independence, Louisiana. My mom and dad separated when I was little, so I split time growing up between my mom in New Orleans and my dad in a small town. In fact," Carl says, "today (March 28) is my birthday."
"No kidding?" Daddy B. Nice says. "What a coincidence. Happy Birthday!"
"Well, thank you. There were some hard times. I was out on my own at the age of twelve--"
"That's the lyrics to 'I Lived It All'!" Daddy B. Nice interrupts.
"That's right," Carl says.
"Now you've got me excited," Daddy B. Nice says. "We can talk about 'Good Loving' all day, Carl. It's become your signature tune. But if it wasn't for 'Good Loving' your Daddy B. Nice would have 'I Lived It All' as the number-one Carl Marshall song on the Top 100 Southern Soul chart. I love that song. That chunky rhythm section, the sax solo, the guitar solo, the bagpipe-sounding synthesizer throughout, the great vocal. Now that is pure Southern Soul. That song is out of print, you know."
"That song's very autobiographical," Carl says. . . . . ."Just the way it was. . . But--hold on a minute. Didn't I put that out again on the Going Against The Grain album?"
"Well, I guess you did. Let's see. . . but Going Against The Grain may also be out of print. I'll have to check that out. I know I'm been unable to offer a sound sample to 'I Lived It All' on my site."
(Daddy B. Nice notes: Subsequently, I went back and checked. "I Lived It All" is not on the Going Against The Grain album. )
"Maybe it's just because I'm a writer," Daddy B. Nice says, "but I've always thought the title should be 'I've Lived It All' with an apostrophe, not 'I Lived It All,' the way it's listed on that old Louisiana Music Factory disc. When you've got the 'I've' in there, it sounds like the struggle is still going on, the 'living it all'."
"You're right," Carl says. "It should have been 'I've Lived'."
"Carl, you've got to put that song out again. Make it the centerpiece of a new album. That is still a great song. Your finest lyrics ever. Right from life's edge."
"You might be right. I've thought about putting out some of those old songs."
"I was brought up the hard way/ Worked for fifty cents a day. . . " Daddy B. Nice sings. "I was hungry, broke/ Didn't have any hope. . . Doors closed in my face/ Friends I thought I had/ Made me feel so bad. . . "
"You might be onto something. It maybe could be a big hit now," Carl says. "with 'Good Loving' having paved the way."
"Carl, I used to have that shout-out from the end of your song, 'I Got The Blues Trying To Find Love,' about how you get the blues when people can't love one another?"
"And for some reason I had that shout of yours sequenced with a song named 'Pork And Beans And Weiners.' Do you know that song, 'Pork And Beans and Weiners,' where the husband is berating his wife for smoking crack and making pork and beans and wieners every night? It's hilarious.'
'Yeah,' Carl says. 'As a matter of fact, he just died recently. John V. Kelly. The Reverend John V. Kelly. Oh yeah, that was a wild song. Lee Bates is on that song, too."
"And how about that Katrina record that you did, 'Let's Dance'? Where you had David Brinston and all those artists doing guest spots? Was that live or was that done in the studio?"
"That was done in the studio."
"Who were the other people taking singing verses, besides Brinston?"
"There was. . . Steel Bill, Michelle Miller--"
"Michelle Miller, who just put out the female version of 'Good Loving'?"
"Right. . . and James Morgan from out of Arkansas. It's funny you should mention that record. I was just telling Dylann (from CDS Records) that he should listen to that song. It's a good example of that New Orleans funk groove, just staying with a hook with a kind of tenacity."
"Like 'Wind It Up.'"
"So going back to 'Good Loving,' I say. 'What about Bigg Robb? What about the 'Good Loving' Bigg Robb remix? Was that hard for you? Did you have some ambivalence about that?"
"Oh, man. Did I ever."
"So it wasn't an easy decision?"
"Oh no," Carl says. "It was a big thing. I also had to decide whether I was going to use my own vocal on the remix. . .. . . All my colleagues were against it. I prayed. I prayed a lot on it. But finally, I decided to do it."
"And it was the right decision," Daddy B. Nice says. "Both letting him do it and putting your voice in it. It expanded your audience for 'Good Loving' once again, moving it into some of the hiphop and Zap crowd, up north in Ohio country."
"It was a blessing, and I have been blessed."
"You know," Daddy B. Nice says, "you caught Bigg Robb at the right time. When he did the remix on Mel Waiters' 'Hole In The Wall,' he was still a pure funk and hiphop guy. And I've talked with him about this--he knows how I feel. But by the time you came around, Carl, with 'Good Lovin' Will Make You Cry,' Bigg Robb had made himself a master of every innovation in Southern Soul. He knew how to put it together so that the Southern Soul audience would still love it."
"Let me tell you about Bigg Robb," Carl says. "He is a very hungry young man. He is a smart person. He loves Southern Soul. And I'm one of his biggest mentors. I made him start singing more. Like me, he's not a natural singer. But I persuaded him to sing on one of the tracks from my new album. It's 'Shake It Like A Rope.' He sounds a little like Michael Jackson."
"Bigg Robb told me he came up with that phrase 'grown folks' first. I figured you'd have something to say on that."
Carl laughs. "No. That was me."
"That phrase really stuck," Daddy B. Nice says. "It hit a chord with the Southern Soul audience. It became the catch phrase to distinguish Southern Soul--'grown folks' music'-- from hiphop and rap. You even had American Blues Network, the internet radio station, using it in their commercials. Now they're using 'party blues & oldies' or something, but for awhile they were saying, 'grown folks music'."
"Yeah," Carl says. "In fact, I'll tell you a story. 'This Is For Grown Folks' was #1 for six months on Larry Jones 'Soul & Blues Report,' and do you know, Larry went from about 20 to about 50 or 60 stations during that time. And there was some real controversy about it being ranked so high for so long. But I knew a lot of deejays and radio markets, and I was contacting them. You see, I worked in radio for awhile, I was a deejay, and learned that side of the business, too."
"Where were you a deejay?"
"Clear Channel, Meridian, Mississippi."
"A great town for Southern Soul."
"And working that side of the business, I learned how little some artists care, how little respect some artists have for the music."
"Can you give me an example?"
"I won't name any names," Carl says, "but you know, the artist comes into town for a gig. I call to set up an interview. The artist says, 'What time is your show?' And I say, 'Six to ten.' And the artist says, 'I don't get up at that time in the morning.'"
"Speaking of late sleepers, how about a Senator Jones story?" Daddy B. Nice asks. "I know you wrote or produced that second Love Doctor CD, Moaning and Groaning, for Senator Jones and Mardi Gras. And didn't you also do that 'Ride Your Mule Uncle Bobo' song?"
"Yeah, that was me," Carl says. "But there was no love and respect."
"What do you mean?"
"I want to see everybody make it, Daddy B. That's the way I am. I truly love the music and what goes on in making it. But that was a time of selfishness and greed, of people taking credit for what they shouldn't."
"You mean, the obscure guy--you--bringing all of the goods, and the guys with the fame taking all of the credit?"
"I'm afraid so. That's the way it was. The Love Doctor should have been out of the business long ago. I wrote and produced the songs for the Moaning And Groaning album, and I did all of the arranging and producing. Then Mardi Gras didn't want to pay me. Senator Jones stopped the project."
"I wish I could say I'd never heard this before," Daddy B. Nice says.
"Then Senator Jones took the material and put it out under his name," Carl says. "And I never got paid."
Daddy B. Nice groans.
"I'll tell you about Senator Jones," Carl continues. "Senator Jones wasn't a producer. . .. . . You see, he didn't have the hands-on technical skills. What happened was: Senator Jones took a lot of the credit for producing songs that he actually took from others. So he began to think of himself as an artist, but he was never a real producer."
"Let me get this straight," Daddy B. Nice says. "You're saying that when someone like Sir Charles came to Senator with his songs, it was mostly Sir Charles--the artist--doing the arranging and producing, not Senator Jones?"
"Right," Carl says. "Senator Jones was able to coach artists. He dealt with a lot of great artists, who came to him. And he was there to bring them along. He was in a position to bring people closer to their dreams. But he wasn't a producer."
"You know," Carl adds, "there aren't many old-school producers around. I can only think of two."
"Who are they?"
"Me. . . and Harrison Calloway."
"Over at Malaco," Daddy B. Nice says. "But is he doing much any more?"
"Well, I'm not sure," Carl says.
"Why is it so hard for Southern Soul artists to understand the need for first-class production?"
"True innovation," Carl says, "comes when you have mastered a field of possibilities in your musical craft. I've done that now for so many years that I can bring this whole set of skills or whatever to any given song. My experience makes it automatic, instinctive."
"Even though I use of lot of electronic stuff in my music," Carl continues, "I use live intruments too, and now I'm even mixing the live with the programed until it's hard to tell the difference. I've got a ten thousand-dollar board that makes live horn sounds so real you'd swear they were the real thing."
"That's what I'll be doing for CDS Records,' Carl continues. . .. . . "I'll be working with Nellie Travis, Stan Mosley, Charles Wilson, and right now I'm working on a new project for T. J. Hooker Taylor. I'll tell you, Floyd Taylor is very good, but T. J. may be the most talented of all Johnnie's sons. I think he's got a promising future."
"You know," Daddy B. Nice says, "I get so many CD's from young artists, and I'm going to call one out I just got the other day. I don't think he'd mind my using his name, because he'd probably consider it a compliment that we're even talking about him. Have you heard of El' Willie?"
"El' Willie is a very good songwriter, and he's also an outstanding vocalist. But he insists on doing everything himself--him and his gadgets, you know. I don't think the guy would let his girlfriend sing a little background if it killed him. And the trouble is, the songs all come off like demo's. It's a Lone Ranger kind of thing, kind of a comfort thing, but also kind of a laziness, and it's the rule, not the exception, with Southern Soul artists."
"Southern Soul is suffering from this," Carl says. "They don't even want a good producer."
"And there's some collaboration," Daddy B. Nice says, "but no bands of super-talented individuals or serious cooperation, to speak of. I mean, think of Crosby, Stills & Nash back in the early seventies. That first album of theirs was heard around the world. I can remember living in Rio de Janeiro-- the Brazilians are a very musical people--and all you heard for a year was that album floating out from the window of every apartamento."
"No kidding," Carl says.
"That would be the equivalent in Southern Soul of, say, Sir Charles Jones, Floyd Taylor and Omar Cunningham putting their harmonies together. Can you imagine the impact?"
"We need to see these artists hone their music and love their fellow artists and bring some joy to the audience," Carl says. "That's for sure."
"Carl, I can't believe we've gone this long without talking about the main ingredient of your music. I call it the 'word.' You force the 'word' upon people in your songs. When I think of your music, I instantly think of one, a spoken monologue, and two, a motivational message."
"I write from the heart, Daddy. I write from daily life."
"You're like a latter-day, late-period Curtis Mayfield or Marvin Gaye. The other day, I was listening to one of your songs, and it made me think of. . . Do you know that one by Paul Simon? 'Looking For America'. . .
"Yeah, yeah, I do. and I'm honored by the comparison."
"Or a lot of Bob Dylan's stuff. And I think that commitment gives you a momentum all its own."
"Well, thank you."
"In other words, you might be at a loss for a hook occasionally, but your commitment is going to take you through obstacles--like writer's block---where a lot of other artists might stumble."
"That dialogue at the beginning of 'Leave That Man's Wife Alone,'" Daddy B. Nice continues, "is so painfully realistic I almost can't make it through to the music."
"Those spoken vocals are by two deejays from South Carolina, Calvin P and Shanessa Finner," Carl says.
"Shanessa. 'Yes, Sugar Biscuit?' Shanessa sounds like she could melt the heart of the most faithful husband. It's a devastating dialogue--and a powerful message."
"Well, thank you, Daddy B. You've pegged it. I love people. And I love the music. I still believe my name is the most important thing."
"Name? As in character?"
"Yes," Carl says. "And I really believe in what I'm singing about. I'm against all these cheating songs. I want to put out a positive image."
"You're not asking me to give up my cheating songs?"
"Where would I be--where would WE be--" Daddy B. Nice asks, "without Ronnie Lovejoy's 'Sho' Wasn't Me'?"
"That's true," Carl says.
"But I want to be the first to hear anything you come up with, Carl, because I know it will come from the gut and it will be original. Not to mention that it will be as 'cutting-edge' as the Devil's own cheatin' songs."
Carl laughs. "Southern Soul is the real music they took off the market, Daddy, and I'm bringing it back. Life has made me so humble. The way I look at songwriting, I ain't nobody anyway, not in the bigger scheme of things, so I'll say anything I want to say."
"And you wait," Daddy B. Nice says. "Years from now, they'll be talking about this music of yours like they all knew about it the whole time."
--Daddy B. Nice
7. CD REVIEW
May 4, 2009
CARL MARSHALL: Look Good For You (CDS) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new."Look Good For You," the title track of Carl Marshall's new CD, begins inauspiciously, with the spectacle of a man addressing women on the subject of their appearance--a recipe for disaster, generally speaking. In younger or less-experienced hands, the song might never have made it much past this rudimentary stage, and it would have been a failure. But Marshall, an accomplished administrator of musical parts and a man with a vision, is nothing if not thorough. And so "Look Good For You" slowly builds, and with the chorus it builds even more, and when the late-period-Beatles-esque chords finally emerge in their full glory, the hook sinks in with the sureness of an anthem.
After a few hearings, when the verbal surprises of the monologue are sufficiently absorbed and just another piece of the music, the full power of the song hits you with the pleasant familiarity, if not quite the buzz, of "Good Lovin' Will Make You Cry," Marshall's signature classic. I can't think of a better reason to recommend a Carl Marshall album, but if you need another, there's the fact Marshall's generous new CD has more than the usual number of tracks (fifteen), and they are all solid, fully fleshed-out songs.
"Accept It For The Way It Is" starts the album on a high note with a Barry Gibbs-like vocal over a catchy little melody that may make you hanker for that dusty old copy of "Stayin' Alive". "What About Now" injects a whiff of pop. "I Cried" is a creditable take-off on Marshall's "Good Lovin' Will Make You Cry."
As in all Carl Marshall albums, the obligatory funk jams abound, here best represented by "Shake It Like A Rope," in which Bigg Robb--the man who collaborated with Carl on the remix of "Good Lovin'"--cameos as a common man's Michael Jackson.
Two other ballads, "After Your Man Is Gone" and "Leave That Man's Wife Alone," enjoyed considerable success (along with "Look Good For You") on Southern Soul radio over the winter. The days of Marshall's airplay anonymity are history.
All three chitlin' circuit hits feature what might just as well be known as Marshall's trademarks: spoken monologues upon which simple musical hooks and moral messages are grafted. "Leave That Man's Wife Alone" is at once typical and one of Marshall's most outrageous.
A riveting dialogue between a wife (who sounds really hot, but turns out to be valiantly faithful) and her husband's best friend (who sounds like a Mr. Jody snake in the grass), leads into a weird little snippet of a melody. The theme and the idiosyncratic sound of the record coalesce and stay with you long afterwards--even, to be truthful, when you don't particularly want them to.
Marshall's narrator often starts out by grating. You want to pull back and say, "Whoa. That's none of your business." But he deftly and quickly becomes ingratiating, heartfelt and often motivational, reeling off therapeutic sermons.
"After Your Man Is gone," not to mention "Ladies, Know Your Worth" and "A Woman Wants Time" are all finely-wrought examples of this formula, blending Marshall's preoccupation with the welfare of women with hard-edged, scintillating production, orchestra-scaled arranging, and no-nonsense, hard-singing, female backgrounds.
Look Good For You the album will always conjure the dominant impression of the talking voice of Carl Marshall--in, around, above and below--any particular melody or riff on the CD. That may be a flaw. There is a dimension of musicality lacking in many of the songs. Indeed, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Marshall's wizardry and complexity as a producer compensate for and hide some of his deficiencies as a composer.
And yet, the way Carl Marshall seamlessly threads his narrative voice through every song on Look Good For You recalls the effortless authenticity of Latimore on "Let's Straighten It Out." Like a fine and aged wine, Marshall's righteous but funky, holy but hip persona makes the CD a real album in the throwback sense--not just a collection of songs, but a thematic whole reminiscent of that golden age when albums came in jackets and were cherished like heirlooms.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Look Good For You CD
June 20, 2010: NEW ALBUM ALERT
Love Who You Wanna Love
Bargain-Priced Love Who You Wanna Love CD
Read Daddy B. Nice's CD Review: ***** "Five Stars. Southern Soul Heaven." (Scroll down to Tidbits #9.)
9. CD REVIEW
June 20, 2010:
CARL MARSHALL: Love Who You Wanna Love (CDS) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.With the starry-eyed ambition of a man much younger, veteran Carl Marshall keeps searching for that perfect record, the one that will take him to another level. Coming after a spate of hiphop and urban-influenced albums by the younger generation reviewed here in the last few weeks, the sounds on Marshall's CD are especially welcome: warm, heartfelt and grown-up.
To those who've followed his career for any appreciable time, it can seem as if Marshall is only shuffling the same songs from album to album. But Carl Marshall's albums have remained obscure, so why not try and get it right?
If so, he's finally found that elusive, magical, near-perfect mix in Love Who You Wanna Love. New but faithful, exquisitely-produced versions of "Good Lovin' Will Make You Cry," "Let's Dance," "Don't Let Love Turn Into Hate" and "Sex Costs" anchor and space a surprisingly eclectic group of songs.
Even those who have become weary of the sermons, homilies and motivational monologues that have marred some recent Marshall efforts (including last tracks on T. J. Hooker and Nellie "Tiger" Travis albums) can take heart. For the most part, Carl doesn't indulge on Love Who You Wanna Love. He's intent on serving up straight-ahead music, and the results are superb.
Everything Marshall has done before is done better here. "Good Lovin' Testimony" (featuring Rue Davis)" and "Let's Dance, Let's Shag" (featuring David Brinston) will quickly become the versions of those songs his fans will want to keep. Rue Davis sounds a bit uncomfortable at first, but once he warms up his gravelly growl greatly enhances Marshall's own, and Michelle Miller is a more than capable female back-up.
In its original form, Carl Marshall's "steppin'" song, "Let's Dance." had an impromptu, tentative, quasi-live sound, although it was a studio recording. Marshall is meticulous in recreating the passion and immediacy of the original while elevating the arranging and producing. The guest vocals are now front and center, far exceeding the original in quality, as is the instrumentation from the rhythm track to the high-flying synthesizer and sax fills.
Even the funk-oriented numbers on Love Who You Wanna Love--the title cut, for example, or the mesmerizing "You Got A Love"--go down easier for fans tired of that form.
Marshall takes a lot of care to make each funk-based track interesting. "Love Who You Wanna Love" is not very appealing until halfway through the song, when Marshall begins to pile on the flourishes and the song begins to pick up some vaunted funk momentum.
Marshall outdoes himself with the vocal on "You
Got A Love," underlining one of the accomplishments of this CD: scorching vocals by a singer not always known for his loyalty to the sung word. The song is a little bit of Carl Marshall meets 70's Herbie Hancock--another seemingly tired form that comes off refashioned and refreshed.
A rapper named Gesta adds immeasurable texture to the funk jam "I Was Trying To Get My Groove On." None of this variety, however, destroys the dominant Marshall mood and ambience, which transitions seamlessly from track to track, even jams to ballads.
Indeed, an electrified blues named "Alberta" is not out of place, thanks to a revealingly-straight and satisfying vocal by Marshall with a synthesizer-distorted, background vocal (plus female cameo) over an unusually distinctive, minimalist arrangement.
The ballad "You Never Know Who You're Going To Love" mines the same ground as "Good Lovin'" without being derivative, blending Marshall's vocal, Miller's back-up and a crisp arrangement highlighted by a delicate guitar. Michelle Miller also carries the lullaby-like "Don't Turn Love Into Hate: Part 2."
"Linda" is a pop song with a Carl Marshall theme, unwed motherhood. Marshall keeps the "pop" to a minimum by talking rather than singing the lyrics, giving the song a flatter, funkier tone than it would otherwise have. And on the explicitly-funky track "Full Time Lover," with Marshall fronting his impeccable orchestra of musicians and singers, the impossible happens: an old dancehall warhorse of the eighties who maxed-out on funk long ago actually gets a glimmer of funk as something new and novel again.
But the jewel of this collection is the re-introduction of the long-out-of-print, early autobiographical masterpiece, "I've Lived It All," wisely placed in the closing position. (The better to remember it.)
The song sounds as if it was recorded yesterday--but oh--with what a difference. Immediacy. Lyricism. Personal detail. Vulnerability. Suffering. Clear-headed self-appraisal. And, ultimately, spiritual transcendence. They're all present in "I Lived It All."
Carl Marshall songs always boast tremendous keyboard work, but--good as it is--it will never come close to the ethereal, bagpipe-sounding keyboard that announces "I Lived It All" and the underlying rhythm track--half-military, half-gut-bucket--that carries the song along while Carl Marshall pours his guts out.
"I was out on my own
At the age of twelve.
From a kid to a man,
I caught plenty hell."
Most contemporary Southern Soul fans are probably not even aware Carl Marshal writes songs like this. "I Lived It All" is the young Carl Marshall.
"Nobody can tell me,
Nothing about rough times.
I know where I came from.
I believe I've lived it all."
The difference is in the perspective the artist brings to the song. These days, as a grown man, Carl Marshall wants to come from a place of wisdom. Dispensing it, that is. But the more powerful song will always come from the "victim-of-life" kind of experience we get most usually from young artists like L. J. Echols and LaMorris Williams.
That's why Mel Waiter's admission of vulnerability (an older man not being able to keep up with a younger woman) is not only refreshingly unique but brings so much resonance to his present hit, "I Can't Do it."
If you can't find something personal (implicit or explicit) to put behind the song you're singing, then chances are that song is never going to mean much to anybody else. By those standards "I Lived It All" is the finest song Carl Marshall has ever recorded.
Did I mention the great, prolonged saxaphone solo that culminates "I Lived It All"? It must be heard to be believed.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Love Who You Wanna Love CD
Note: CDS Records has informed me that my previous notice and appreciation of this song is the very reason it is included on this album. DBN.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
Honorary "B" Side
"I Lived It All"
All material--written or visual--on this website is copyrighted and the exclusive property of SouthernSoulRnB.com, LLC. Any use or reproduction of the material outside the website is strictly forbidden, unless expressly authorized by SouthernSoulRnB.com. (Material up to 300 words may be quoted without permission if "Daddy B. Nice's Southern Soul RnB.com" is listed as the source and a link to http://www.southernsoulrnb.com/ is provided.)